Everyone loves the feeling of soaking in a steamy hot tub, but trips to the spa and to fancy resorts don't come cheap.
So here's an alternative: Bring the hot tub to you. It's actually possible — and not overly expensive — to make like the rich and famous and experience the luxury of having a hot tub or spa in your own home for the day or weekend.
"In summer they're good for cooling off, but they're most fun when it's cold out," said Kate DeGidio, owner of Kate's Hot Tub Rental (search) in Minnesota.
A surprise soak can also be a good way to get in — or out of — hot water with your husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend. DeGidio, who opened her business a year and a half ago, says she gets a lot of calls from people looking to surprise their other half with a tub for two.
"We had two out for Valentine's Day … a wife will call to surprise their husband or vice versa. A lot of men do it for their wives — one wife didn't even want to go on a trip; she wanted to stay home and rent a tub,” DeGidio said.
Kate's tubs cost $265 per night plus tax, plus $30 for additional nights (there is a separate weekly fee). Her motto? "Good clean fun. Just add water."
Amanda May, lifestyle editor for Redbook magazine, recommended the rentals in her February article "What's New for Date Night.”
"I get lots of information about hot-tub sales – they're really expensive. So I did some research and found out you could rent them," she said. "They come bring it up for you and it's ready when your husband gets home from work."
May says ordering a hot tub or indoor spa to go is a nice way to spend time at home with your spouse doing something besides cooking dinner.
"It's great way for you to spend a really fun, different, romantic evening together doing something you normally wouldn't get to do unless you went to an expensive spa and resort. Open some champagne — if you have kids, send them out Friday night and let them play in there on Saturday," she said.
Mike Faulise, who rented a tub from Kate's for his wife Kimberly's birthday in March, says the experience was "wonderful."
"We put on our swimsuits and our snowmobile suits and we just drank enough to kill a small animal. It was plenty warm," he told Foxnews.com.
But if you're not fit to brave the cold, indoor, soft-sided acrylic spas – similar to Jacuzzis — are also available for rent at companies like Hot Tubs on Wheels (search) in Denver, Colo.
"The hot tubs take less time to heat up — about two hours — but the spas are better for a smaller number of people," said manager Warren Conrad. "We bring the spas Wednesday and they're hot by Friday."
In this package, called the three-day weekend, you get the spa on Wednesday and keep it until Monday for $250. Hot Tubs on Wheels also sells the spas for $1,999.
And hot tubs are not just about romance. A variety of businesses that rent tubs and spas nationwide (visit them at hottubrental.com) recommend them for birthday parties, housewarming parties, dances, homecoming parties, camp events, church events, Girl Scout, frat and sorority parties.
Conrad says the tubs are drained and chemically treated after pick-up, and that they haven't had any complaints about cleanliness.
Elizabeth M. Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health (search), concurred that the tubs are totally safe if used correctly.
"Water-borne diseases are definitely possible — pathogens can thrive in a hot hot tub. But if you rent one for the weekend, it's very safe unless there's enormously heavy use," she said. "I have a hot tub myself — when my daughter brings all her friends over, I use more chlorine," she said.
If you rent for longer than a weekend, Whelan recommends treating the tub once a week.
"It's a good idea to empty it out a few times a season. And shower before you go in – it's less of an assault on quality of the water," she said.
Conrad admits that some people think the idea of a rental tub is flimsy or chintzy — but that's only until they try one.
"Fill 'em up with water and everybody loves them," he said.